Astute reader DeeJayQueue (I might not ever get used to referring to people by usernames) asked the following in the comments of the “Guitar Hero Vexes Rapidly Aging/Culturally Irrelevant Blogger Who Misses Jukeboxes Of The Non-Digital Variety” post earlier today:
Isn’t there some line in the copyright law about “public performance or rental” for video games? I hardly see how this is legal.
While this guest editor certainly enjoys pretending to be an expert, the public performance of video games is a legal issue I couldn’t even pretend to approach. However, there’s another underlying issue that’s near and dear to the Idolator heart: “Can ASCAP and BMI sue a bar for the music from Guitar Hero?” Remarkably, that issue is not covered on either organization’s Web site, and being passed around the phone tree at BMI proved to be ineffective in getting a response of any usefulness. However, seeing this selection from ASCAP’s “Frequently Asked Questions” page made me believe that even thinking about Van Halen’s rendition of “You Really Got Me” is probably illegal without a license.
What is a public performance?
A public performance is one that occurs either in a public place or any place where people gather (other than a small circle of a family or its social acquaintances.) A public performance is also one that is transmitted to the public; for example, radio or television broadcasts, music-on-hold, cable television, and by the internet.
You need a license for hold music? I always wondered how the guy from Mannheim Steamroller got so rich, but now it’s become so clear.
Licensing: Frequenly Asked Questions [ASCAP.com]